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Ian King. Good columnist but what rubbish

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This is one to make you choke on your cornflakes. Ian king is a decent Times columnist but opinion pieces such as these reinforce the impression that there is a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon between those in the finance industry and their insiders and those who are compelled to use their “services”

The last line in particular takes some swallowing and is frankly complete rubbish. Insulting rubbish to those who had to dip in their pockets to bail these people out

Good old Fred Goodwin. He hasn’t been chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland for more than five years but, like Churchill or Hitler, he will be helping writers to make a living for decades to come. At this rate, he will also be a handy scapegoat for RBS for a while yet.

One of his henchmen, Derek Sach, stands accused of destroying scores of viable SMEs, and yesterday Mr Goodwin was a convenient Aunt Sally for the new RBS chief executive, Ross McEwan, as he sought to explain a computer glitch on the night of what we must all, drearily, now call “Cyber Monday”.

The chances are that while RBS may well have underinvested in IT for years, as Mr McEwan alleges, it is hardly unique. HSBC has suffered four major IT failures like this since June 2009. So did Barclays, also in June 2009, while Lloyds and Halifax customers were similarly locked out of ATMs in October last year.

What should be more startling, frankly, is that there are not more such snafus. More than 10  billion card transactions and 5.7 billion direct debits are conducted annually. While doing all this, bank IT systems must also be able to withstand cyberattacks from any part of the world while remaining vigilant for possible fraud, money laundering and other criminal activity. Doing all that 24/7 would test even the finest systems. And all this infrastructure, thanks to the insane structure of Britain’s retail banking market, is provided free of charge. Customers who demand free banking should not be surprised when IT systems that are, in some cases, 30 years old topple over from time to time.

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